Dorje Chang Buddha is Buddha Vajradhara (金剛總持, pronounced jin gang zong chi in Chinese, which literally means “Supreme Ruler of the Vajra Beings”) and is also called in Chinese 持金剛 (pronounced chi jin gang, which literally means “Ruler of the Vajra Beings”). Dorje Chang Buddha is not 金剛持 (pronounced jin gang chi in Chinese, which means “Practitioner of the Vajra” as explained below). In English, people often use the word vajradhara to refer to a 金剛持 (jin gang chi), or Practitioner of the Vajra. Actually a 金剛持 (vajradhara) is a master or guru. BuddhaVajradhara is a Buddha. Moreover, Buddha Vajradhara is the primordial sambhogakaya Buddha whose sambhogakaya manifested out of the dharmakaya of Adharma Buddha (Adi Buddha, or Samantabhadra Tathagata). All of the Buddha-dharma of Buddha Vajradhara originated from the tathata (true suchness) of Samantabhadra Tathagata. With respect to the dharmakaya of Samantabhadra Tathagata, there is no past and no future. Without form yet not empty, He neither comes nor goes. There are no Buddhas above Him to become. There are no living beings below Him to be saved. Such is His absolute truth. Thus, the dharma-body state of Samantabhadra Tathagata is without signs or characteristics, without speech, and without form. As such, there is no subject or being who could expound the dharma. Without such a subject or being, the multitudinous living beings could not be saved.
Because of such karmic conditions, the formless dharmakaya Buddha generated the first sambhogakaya Buddha with form. This sambhogakaya Buddha with form transformed into Vajrasattva and other nirmanakayas. In order to make a distinction between those three, the dharmakaya Buddha was named Adharma Buddha; the sambhogakaya Buddha was named Dorje Chang Buddha; the nirmanakaya was named Vajrasattva. Actually, all three are Samantabhadra Tathagata, all three are Adharma Buddha, and three are Dorje Chang Buddha. In truth, there are not two Buddhas. These distinctions are due to a dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. Based on this dharma, Samantabhadra Tathagata did not directly incarnate. Even the ancient Buddha Dipankara and Vajrasattva were the nirmanakayas of Dorje Chang Buddha.
Dorje Chang Buddha is also called Buddha Vajradhara or Ruler of the Vajra Beings (持金剛 chi jin gang). In the entire universe, Dorje Chang Buddha is the first Buddha with form and is the highest Buddha. That is, the highest leader of Buddhism in the entire universe came into being in the form of Dorje Chang Buddha. It was Dorje Chang Buddha who began transmitting dharma and saving living beings in the dharmadhatu. As a result, Buddhism was born and the Buddha-dharma began spreading.
However, many sects and lineages list Samantabhadra Tathagata as the first Buddha who began all the lineages in the dharmadhatu. This way of thinking is actually correct as well. That is because although Samantabhadra Tathagata is a dharmakaya without form and has no way of speaking, the origin lies with this dharmakaya from which the sambhogakaya Dorje Chang Buddha manifested. This sambhogakaya Buddha was the first one to spread the Buddha-dharma in the dharmadhatu. That sambhogakaya Buddha also transformed into Vajrasattva and other nirmanakayas whospread the dharma in the triloka (three spheres). Because of the birth of Dorje Chang Buddha, living beings were thus able to become holy beings in accordance with His dharma teachings.
We often see in dharma books a blue image of Adharma Buddha. Actually, this image is a symbol. Such a symbolic form is necessary since the tathata emptiness of Adharma Buddha is invisible and cannot be depicted in a thangka. There is no way to draw the shape of emptiness. The dharmakaya has no features that can be pictorially depicted. In fact, the concept of dharmakaya is the absolute truth of the universe (dharmadhatu) that is not born and does not perish. The sambhogakaya Buddha (Buddha Vajradhara) manifested out of this concept of not being born and not perishing.
Dorje Chang Buddha is the ancient, primordial sambhogakaya Buddha. He has the unsurpassed virtuous appearance that all of the Buddhas in the ten directions have. He was the first in the dharmadhatu and triloka (three spheres) to express the dharma. Therefore, Buddha Vajradhara, or Dorje Chang Buddha, is actually the greatest leader of Buddhism in the entire dharmadhatu. He is the original ancestor of Buddhism.
However, many Buddhists misinterpret Dorje Chang Buddha, or Buddha Vajradhara, as being a 金剛持 (jin gang chi), or Practitioner of the Vajra (i.e. vajradhara). This is a mistake in a matter of principle that carries with it a karmic offence. Buddha Vajradhara has the meaning of one who is in charge of and has supervision over all of the vajra beings. Thus, He is the 持金剛 (chi jin gang) or Ruler of the Vajra Beings, the one who has dominion over the vajra beings. On the other hand, a 金剛持 (jin gang chi), or Practitioner of the Vajra (i.e. vajradhara), is one who learns the dharma and teaches others. Such a person enlightens himself and others. The term 金剛持 (jin gang chi), or Practitioner of the Vajra, connotes Vajra Master. There is a world of difference between a 金剛持 (jin gang chi) or Practitioner of the Vajra on the one hand and a 持金剛 (chi jin gang) or Ruler of the Vajra Beings on the other hand.
Buddha Vajradhara (also called Ruler of the Vajra Beings) has passed down dharma to all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who received such dharma. All of the Buddha-dharma of both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism was originally transmitted by this Ruler of the Vajra Beings. The 84,000 dharma methods that Sakyamuni Buddha taught were transmitted to Sakyamuni Buddha by the ancient Buddha Dipankara, who was a nirmanakaya of Dorje Chang Buddha. Tibetan esoteric Buddhism, which contains all of the dharma of the Nyingma, Sakya, Jonang, Kagyu, and Geluk sects, including the Kalachakra Vajra Dharma transmitted by Sakyamuni Buddha; Japanese esoteric Buddhism; and esoteric Buddhism taught by Sakyamuni Buddha contained in the Tripitaka all come from the lineage of which Dorje Chang Buddha is the original ancestor or from the lineage of His nirmanakaya, Vajrasattva. 金剛總持 Buddha Vajradhara or Ruler of the Vajra Beings is the supreme leader of Buddhism in the dharmadhatu. He is not a Vajra Master who is a 金剛持 (jin gang chi), or Practitioner of the Vajra (i.e. vajradhara).
When disciples find a qualified master, they should visualize their Vajra Master as being a Buddha. This is done out of respect for the dharma and respect for one’s lineage. However, no matter what type of master he may be, if his identity or status has not been recognized as a Buddha by rinpoches of great holiness in accordance with the dharma, then he is not a Buddha. Still, the disciple must visualize Him as a Buddha. Even the holy and venerable Vimalakirti, who as the second Buddha Vajradhara, was affirmed as a Tathagata (Buddha) through an announcement of Sakyamuni Buddha.
The incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha is different from the nirmanakayas of any other Buddha. Such an incarnation is a primordial manifestation of the existence of Buddha-dharma. In each world of living beings, there can be at any one time only one incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, who manifests or expresses the existence of the true dharma. There will not be a second incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha in the same age or era. Only after the first incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha leaves the world can the second incarnation be born based on karmic conditions relating to the good fortune of living beings. For example, the holy and venerable Vimalakirti, who was the second Dorje Chang Buddha, took birth in this earthly realm in the past. The third Dorje Chang Buddha, H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu, took birth in this earthly realm more than two thousand years after Vimalakirti left it and only when karmic conditions relating to the good fortune of living beings had matured.
Nobody can get away with falsely claiming to be the incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha. In order to protect the dignity of the Buddha-dharma in the dharmadhatu and prevent demons from falsely claiming to be Buddha Vajradhara or the Ruler of the Vajra Beings, Buddha Vajradhara must be born with His own dharma and realization so that He may manifest or express the dharma. No other Buddha is able to manifest realization equal to the realization of Dorje Chang Buddha. That is because in order to protect the true dharma, the Buddhas do not manifest realization powers at the sameholy level as the realization of Dorje Chang Buddha. Conversely, all demons lack the power to manifest such realization and therefore cannot manifest such realization.
When Sakyamuni Buddha lived in this world, Dorje Chang Buddha took birth as the holy and venerable Vimalakirti, who helped Sakyamuni Buddha teach the 500 monks and 8,000 Bodhisattvas. The holy and venerable Vimalakirti, who was the second incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, had the highest wisdom and the greatest ability to manifest supernatural powers as an expression of dharma. No other holy being could match Him.
H.H. Mahavairocana Tathagata formally pronounced that the third incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu, must meet five conditions: He must successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar. He must be able to perform the Golden Vase Selection of Karmic Affinity and predict the results of that ceremony beforehand. He must be able to eliminate the karmic obstructions of disciples. He must be able to take mist, place it inside a hollowed out sculpted boulder, and have the mist stay there. He must be able to carve wondrous multicolored sculptures.
The formal pronouncement stated that no other holy being could repeat those five types of accomplishments. It also stated that if any other person of great holiness repeat those five types of accomplishments, then Mahavairocana Tathagata’s recognition that H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu is Dorje Chang Buddha is false, and the pronouncement has deceived the public in order to build up a false reputation.
The facts have proven that in this world there is no being of great holiness and virtue or even an expert who is able to match the accomplishments of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu. Furthermore, great dharma kings on the level of a Buddha or Bodhisattvahave unanimously recognized the identity of H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu through recognition certificates. This thoroughly proves that no one can get away with falsely claiming the identity or status of Dorje Chang Buddha.
In order to prevent demons from wreaking havoc by falsely claiming to be the incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, the required number of many holy beings must recognize the incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha. Furthermore, many additional holy beings must bear witness to the veracity of the recognition and respectfully offer congratulations. The many holy beings who recognize the incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha must be Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or great dharma kings. Those who bear witness to the veracity of the recognition and respectfully offer congratulations must beextremely holy and virtuous Bodhisattvas. All of those who recognize, bear witness, and respectfully offer congratulations must be famous leaders within Buddhism and great rinpoches. If the identity of the person was not recognized by those on such a holy level, if congratulations were not respectfully offered to him by those on such a holy level, and if he does not have legitimate recognition certificates, then his claims that he is a holy being are false.
People say, “So-and-so rinpoche is universally recognized as the incarnation of Buddha Vajradhara.” This way of speaking is based on heretical and erroneous understanding. It is not in accord with the rules of true Buddhism. Where is the realization of this rinpoche that an incarnation of Buddha Vajradhara would have? Does this rinpoche have complete proficiency in both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism? Does he have full mastery of the Five Vidyas? Which five dharma kings have recognized his identity as being Buddha Vajradhara and which ten dharma kings or rinpoches have certified that recognition? Can he show others a recognition certificate showing he is the third Buddha Vajradhara? Which several famous people of holy virtue respectfully offered congratulations to him for being recognized? No matter how high a certain monastic may be, if he does not have true realization and the required written recognitions andcongratulations stating he is the third incarnation of Buddha Vajradhara, then all claims by others that he is Buddha Vajradhara are flattery, exaggeration, and rumors.
Hence, one must understand that Buddha Vajradhara (金剛總持, jin gang zong chi) is 持金剛 (chi jin gang, which is a Buddha). On the other hand, a 金剛持 (jin gang chi) is a lama (master). Anyone who misinterprets a 金剛持(jin gang chi) as being a 持金剛 (chi jin gang) or Buddha Vajradhara is undoubtedly placing the status of a mere vajra master over that of Amitabha Buddha and other Buddhas. Such conduct is a terrible offense because according to the sutras and esoteric scriptures Buddha Vajradhara is Dorje Chang Buddha (持金剛 chi jin gang), the Master of the Five Buddhas and other Buddhas.